How to Choose The Right Paintless Dent Repair Price and Technician
Understanding Dent Repair Technician Occupations and Pricing
A Technicians (Auction Lot). Fixed location, low quality, high volume, low pay, mid-job security. The prices are very meager per unit, but the volume of workflow makes the enterprise a very lucrative one. The quality level needs to fall between 30-60% at a minimum, with very little oversight on quality. Auctions simply want the dent repairs to look a little better -- most retail customers would be upset with this level of quality. Larger dent repair corporations start their new zero technicians here, before releasing them to dealerships as "B" technicians. These are typically 1-2 year technicians who work for less than 30% of the actual dent repair price.
B Technicians (BodyShop/Dealership). Mobile, mid quality, mid volume, mid pay, high job security. Dealership technicians have a route of dealerships that they service. The prices per panel slightly improve, and the quality of repairs needs to fall within the 60-80% range to satisfy and maintain these accounts. Note: B's rarely leave the high-security jobs for other categories. These are typically 2-20 year technicians who work for less than 50% of the actual dent repair price.
C Technicians (Customer Retail/Smash). Mobile, high quality, low volume, mid pay, low-mid job security. C Technicians are entrepreneurs who are tired of being a cog in a much larger wheel, namely the A/B world. C Technicians have mastered and adapted to a mobile retail customer base for minor and extensive door dings. They typically operate at the highest level of completion: 80-100%, due to the level of scrutiny, from their clients. That is, unlike dealerships and auctions, retail customers have a vested interest in the repair: i.e., personal asset. As a result, if a C technician has survived for several years as a retail only technician, its safe to say they are going to meet your standards. These are typically 5-20 year technicians who work for 100% of the actual dent repair price.
H Technicians (Hail). Fixed, high quality, high volume, high pay, mid-high job security. If C technicians are general practitioners, H technicians are brain surgeons. Although, generally developed from B's, they can come from any category. They are built for and traditionally only do hail damage after massive storms from March to October in North America. These are typically 5-20 year technicians who work for 50-70% of the actual dent repair price.
Z Technicians (Zero). Low quality, low volume, anyone: low pay. This technician went to a school for a few weeks and is in their first months of pushing metal, or they just looked at a few videos online and purchased some tools. They are also typically sent to Dent Repair training by a dealership group and work partially doing dents and other mundane tasks within the dealership. At this stage, they only know enough to get into trouble. These are typically first-year technicians who work for less than 30% of the actual dent repair price.
Ensure The Price Is Right
In short, research. The first step is to look at BBB accreditation! Although, BBB is no longer the plumb line for quality, it does require dent repair companies to have a Motor Vehicle License from the State and proper insurance. If something goes wrong during a repair, you have a safety net. Time doing anything doesn't equate to quality in any industry. We all know that "20 years guy", insert any industry here, you wouldn't trust with a potato gun. Why? He/she has been doing it wrong for 20 years. C/H Technicians are problem solvers, having spent decades overcoming and tackling the same problems; refining their process with outstanding results: while everyone else went out of business or downgraded. Here are a few things to look for in a reliable C/H technician.
Top Ten Things To Look For In A C/H Technician
1. Reviews on Google and Yelp.
Don't click the paid advertisements, your not necessarily going to find what you are looking for. In many cases, your going to see a technician that has never made it through any of the above categories. The last thing you want in your driveway is a "Z".
2. The Owner of the Company Answers the Phone.
If your getting routed via computer to another line, or reach an operator to send you to a technician in your area, you just found an A or B Technician. Most C technicians are answering their phone line because their livelihood depends on it. Don't be miffed if you reach a voice recording; you're not calling McDonald's, he/she may be busy for a perfect reason: high demand.
3. Vale Certification.
Admittedly, Vale doesn't always equate to quality; however, it is the only independent in-person examination currently available within the industry. ARC is now working on a better certification program. Regardless, if a technician went out of their way to get licensed with Vale, they are serious technicians who care about quality.
4&5. NAPDRT and PDRNATION members.
These memberships do not require an in-person physical test; however, they are good indicators that a technician has their pulse on the industry and is driving toward a higher quality standard.
6. Website and Social Media.
If a technician doesn't have a professional website, then they are probably not someone you want in your driveway, period. Social Media. Search the owner's name/company name on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
7. Youtube and Vimeo presence.
C and H categories want to show their artwork to drum up more sales leads; this is a great way to meet the technician before speaking with them.
Quality technicians carry around 50-100k worth of tools, for every eventuality. Although tools, in and of themselves, are not perfect indicators of quality, they are indicators of past success. A sound technician is going to have a battery powered light. If they are using the sun and a nonelectric powered board, you have reason to be concerned. The battery powered lights allow technicians to see 30-50% more of the dent -- in the final phases: if they cannot see the dent, they cannot fix it. Make sure its an LED light.
Higher quality technicians cost more, and typically they are worth every penny. If your using paintless dent repair, you are going to be saving money on a traditional paint job, so going in cheap at this stage is silly. The cheaper that you go, the less quality you are going to receive. It all boils down to simple economics. Money is a motivator and time granter. The more time allocated to a repair doesn't always translate into a better job, but if a technician is pulling off a car door to repair, you're going to get better results on more complex damage.
Newer vehicles are computers more than they are vehicles. If a technician is removing parts to repair your 2015+ vehicle and they don't mention anything about scanning your codes, it may not be anything to be alarmed about, but you still want to take the vehicle to your dealership and have the codes cleared or looked at.
Regardless, Don't Get Scammed!
Scam artists are depicting themselves as paintless dent repair technicians, beware of two primary scams. First, a professional technician will never approach you in a parking lot, asking to repair your dent (unless they are a "z" or below)! Second, a professional will never place a paste of any kind on your vehicle, asking for payment upfront, for you to wipe the paste off tomorrow! Also, beware of a jack of all trades, they are always a master of none in this industry. That is, if they cannot make a living as a paintless dent repair technician full time, there is an excellent reason.